As a Laker fan, you cannot help but be proud of these guys. Sure, they lost to the Utah Jazz, 96-89, but they clawed, scrapped, scratched, bit, punched, kicked, and screamed (okay, not really screamed) the entire game. Even if they did a lot of things fundamentally wrong. They kept within distance the whole time in a game that’s decidedly not tailor-made for them.
The Lakers shot a not-so-good 38.1 percent but they battled back and held the Jazz to 41.3 percent shooting. It was the little things that gave the Jazz the duke here. The pick-and-roll defense was atrocious and it was even more glaring in the fourth as George Hill (23 points) got to the rim at will. Again, the Lakers’ shooting wasn’t great but Lou Williams (17 points) hit some big three-pointers in the second half. Utah went up by as many as 11 in the fourth but L.A. got the necessary stops to deficit down to four. Unfortunately, D’Angelo Russell continued to struggle on the field (3 for 14, 9 points). He missed a three that would’ve cut the lead down to one. The Jazz would eventually win after the Lakers had to play the foul game.
The young guys didn’t play so well but they did play through it as it is all about development. The Lakers leaned on veteran help from Lou and Luol Deng (12 points and 12 rebounds). It’s also encouraging to see continued effort from Lou and Nick Young (13 points) on the defensive end. The Jazz tried to bully the Lakers the entire time but the energy by the Lakers never wavered; they flew all over the place and, somehow, didn’t get lost too much defensively. The young Lakers withstood everything the Jazz threw at them, even an 11-0 run that should’ve been debilitating. It’s just nice to see them fight through the bitter end. NEVER GIVE UP. *cue John Cena’s music*
It’s only the second game so there are going to be a lot of kinks, especially for a young team. You wish they can be more aggressive on the pick-and-roll defense. You wish they wouldn’t rush too much on their shots. You wish they would balance flying around and standing their ground defensively. You wish they would get more aggressive towards the rim if the outside shot is not falling. You wish they’d foul a little less (29 fouls by the Lakers compared to 18 by the Jazz).
But again, lots to be encouraged about. The fighting spirit is there. The defensive effort is there. The scrappiness is there. And they showed they can play an ugly game like this. If a few plays went their way, Lakers would be 2-0.
By the way, hope Brandon Ingram feels better. He received a scare in the first half after he had a “twinge” on his knee. He came back briefly but was eventually taken out for the rest of the game. It shouldn’t be all bad, though, according to Mike Trudell.
Let’s all take deep breaths and pray to all the gods that he’s okay.
For now, the Lakers move on. They have the Thunder and a raging Russell Westbrook on Sunday (who just came off a 50-point triple double). We’ll see how they do then. In the meantime, be proud of this young team that they fought all the way through.
Sometimes, that’s all you can ask for.